Family affair: `I never liked being myself'

Singer and songwriter Howard Jones made his name in the 1980s with hits like What Is Love, and Like to Get to Know You Well. His latest single is Let The People Have Their Say. He and his wife Jan live in Reading and have three children, Osheen, 12, Mica, 10, and Jasper, 4. Osheen has acted in the film of `A Midsummer Night's Dream', `Velvet Goldmine', and in `Titus Andronicus'

Osheen was conceived on a tour bus travelling from Denver to Salt Lake City. My wife Jan and I slept at the back which you could convert into a double bed. We had been having a wonderful time living in Ireland so we named him Osheen which is the English spelling of an Irish name. Later we thought it would be wonderful if he could experience our lives with us so up until he went to school he came on big tours around the world.

In places like Japan, Osheen would be in his pushchair surrounded by about 30 aunts and uncles - the crew and band. He didn't sleep much as a baby - he's still like that now. I guess he grew up thinking it was normal for people to be playing instruments and singing on stage. That must affect a person.

From a very young age Osheen has been into dressing up and putting on accents, and generally swanning around as different characters. At three years old he said he was going to be an actor. When friends came round he would rush into his room and reappear dressed up in animal costumes, brightly coloured clothes, dresses even.

We thought he'd like to go to Saturday drama classes at a local theatre school. Through the school he came to audition for the Royal Shakespeare Company who were doing a film of their production of A Midsummer Night's Dream. Then he had a small part in Velvet Goldmine with Ewan McGregor. After that he was cast as Sir Anthony Hopkins's grandson in Titus Andronicus which he's just finished filming in Rome. I was on tour in America but the rest of the family went out to be with Osheen. He had a tutor from nine to five but he missed his friends and found night shoots hard because he had to stay up until 4am. We'd talk daily on the phone and I'd say to him, "There's only a few more weeks to go now. Once you see the film you'll be so proud of your work."

Jan and I talk constantly about what it means to have a son who is a child actor. If you believe that people get born to certain families for a reason, we believe that Osheen has ended up in our family because my career has given us so much experience of the media. We know that the big thing is keeping your feet on the ground and not getting all overblown about yourself. I want to help Osheen realise that acting or performing is just another job. We may act or sing but we're still ordinary people. Not everyone may be actors or singers but we use our talent to contribute to society.

Macaulay Culkin and his father are a rather sad story and we couldn't be farther away from that. We have always discussed everything openly. With my Buddhist thinking I've never thought of Osheen as a child but as another person.

If Osheen changes his mind and doesn't want to act any more, that's completely fine by us. We certainly won't push him. But I feel that if you get the opportunity to work with Anthony Hopkins, then as long as you have your family supporting you, it's probably a good thing to do.


I never liked being myself; I always liked being other people. I don't know why. I've always liked dressing up and acting from a very young age. Quite embarrassing, really. I liked being very posh people; I loved being Lloyd Grossman - I'd do his voice. I meet people now who I knew when I was very young and they say, "I remember you running around saying `I want to be an actor'."

I thought what dad did was so normal. Now when I see him on stage I think, "Wow, how cool!" But he's still my dad. I think dad and I are very much alike. We both like music, fashion and art, but he's more of a stage person than me. I'm a bit shyer. I'm more of a film actor. I went on tour with him in the summer to the United States and had a brilliant time. The first night I went on stage with him he didn't tell me he was going to point the microphone at me and say, "Do your thing."

I was just so happy when I got the part in A Midsummer Night's Dream. I'd been to three auditions and it got down to two people. I couldn't imagine seeing myself on the screen. Weird! I was wearing pyjamas. Some bits I thought were quite good. In others I'd think, "Oh, I look terrible. Who did my hair?"

After that I did Velvet Goldmine. I remember walking through the costumes department to try on my outfit, looking at all these outrageous costumes, like platform shoes. I thought, "My God, what am I going to have to wear? What are my friends going to think of me in platform shoes?" I was relieved to learn I had to wear a grey school outfit.

Me and dad talk a lot about the whole business of me being a child actor. If I've had a hard day and I've not been very happy, I'd tell him. Filming Titus Andronicus in Rome I did get very upset because I was missing my friends and I was desperate to go back to school.

Towards the end of the movie I got quite ill: I had a really bad cold and a temperature and I was terribly worried about not being able to fly back to England. On the last day I wanted to fly back early in the morning and go to school in the afternoon. But I missed my flight because I was so ill.

Believe me, making films is not at all glam. Being on a movie set is really boring. I'd just hang around and then they wouldn't use me and I'd get so annoyed. Some days I had to get up really early when I had to have my hair dyed. I'd think, "Oh, God I didn't want this to happen."

Near the end of the movie, I had a scene where I was at a big table full of toy soldiers and food and I had to throw things about. That felt great. In fact, I was so upset, that I went a bit crazy and I was throwing everything everywhere. That really helped me get it all out.

I like acting but I'd rather not do it now. On that last movie I missed my friends so much that by the end I got depressed. My dad is great, but I don't want to be like him. I'd like to be a really nice person like he is, but be myself. For the moment, I just want to be with my friends at school.

Interviews by